Hiking Day 4 - Unknown spot to Salka (23km)
So I awoke to a somewhat cooler day, much better for hiking, a stunning view in the valley from my tent. I had 23km to walk today.
Taking care of your feet on a multi day hike is very important. Blisters and toenail issues are a sure way to bring a hike to an early end or at best make it painful and miserable to continue. So each morning I prep my feet for the day, depending upon the terrain with either moleskin for hot spots or KT tape for support. With feet done, time for a porridge and a cup of tea before setting off on a long day.
First step was to get to Singi 9 km away, this is a basic hut, no shop or facilities really, just a kitchen for people to make hot drinks etc. I popped in for some rest and a coffee and met up with two guys I had got chatting to in the previous hut. At this point I was curious about the number of helicopters that were flying overhead. Some were obvious, they were bringing in supplies, wood hanging from below but some not. I was told that they almost have a taxi system in the remote north to get from village to village, but of course some were search and rescue. The tough terrain and constant rocks and boulders took its toll each year on peoples ankles. Rescue is free in Sweden for genuine cases, but they did make me chuckle when they told me the story of one guy last year that called for a helicopter because he was tired. The helicopter picked him up, took him into town and then they billed him £2000 for the ride. Not sure that's what he expected, but for abusing the air, search and rescue I guess that's what you get.
After a good chat and a couple of hot drinks we parted company again, they were taking a side trail off to Norway and I carried on to Salka. The further north I got the rougher the trail was getting with more and more rocks, but 12km later I reached Salka. I popped in the shop/shed and got some food resupplies and then headed off to find a pitch. Once again the views just do not disappoint.
Hiking Day 5 - Salka to unknown spot (12km)
At the beginning of the day I had planned to go to the next hut area TJÄKTJE (13km). I knew this day was a hard day, very rocky and boulder hopping for several kilometers, but it proved to be a bit tougher than I expected. I strapped the right foot up with KT tape to protect it from an old injury and set off. The terrain was very hard going, here is a short video which I think gives you an idea of the terrain. This wasn't just like it for a short stretch, there were kilometres of rocks and boulders to hop over in the next 12km.
I stopped about 1km short of the next hut when I found a fantastic spot to pitch up. The view was amazing, I set up some timelapses and started cooking dinner. Well I say cooking dinner, food on the trail for me is nothing more than boiling water and pouring it into a dehydrated meal bag. 20 minutes and they taste OK, but unfortunately all look and smell like dog food.
I enjoyed the evening, watching over the valley. I was sad I only had 3 days of hiking left until I reached the end.
Hiking Day 6 - Unknown spot to AlesJaure (14km)
Day 6 was a long slow climb uphill, first target was the hut TJÄKTJE, I didn't bother stopping, just walked past it. The target for the night was AlesJaure, a popular hut at a junction of about 5 trails. Again more rock fields and if I was lucky a few planks to make it easier.
I hadn't seen much wildlife on the trip, northern Sweden has brown bears, Sweden has about 1500 brown bears, but I hadn't seen anything yet, just a lot of elk and reindeer poop. Finally I was rewarded and came across several groups of reindeer. I sat still and hoped they came to me, eventually after patiently waiting the strategy worked.
I arrived at AlesJaure, one of the largest set of huts on the trail due to all the connections of other trails. A sauna, shop, dorms and kitchen. Also there is a nearby village in the far distance in the video below that is home for people for 2 months of the year for reindeer herding. The rest of the year it is empty. The hut in the foreground is the sauna.
The above video is from my tent pitch, another great view.
Hiking Day 7 - AlesJaure to AbiskoJaure (21km)
This was going to be a long day so I started early, we found there was a local boat service that would take us over the island (£35 cash only), this cuts 5km off the day, making it a mere 16km, much better, so myself and a few other hikers opted for the boat ride. The rest of the trail was fairly straight forward, still rocky in places but nowhere near as bad as the section north from Salka. The scenery changed coming down into Abisko National Park, a good spot to put the drone up again.
There is really is no way to describe the open landscape and sheer epic scale of everything. Even the drone pictures don't give the sense of scale.
So I walked down into the valley, across another raging river and into the last hut complex. I was a little worried because I had not found out the score of the England vs Sweden World Cup football. From the initial frosty reception in a Swedish hut, it was obvious England had won, but they were only joking with me and soon discovered all was well even though we had won 2-0. It was so late in the day and I had to be up at 6am in the morning to hike out to the finish line in time for my train, so for one final night I pitched and crashed.
Hiking Day 8- AbiskoJaure to Abisko (15km)
The final day of hiking on the Kungsleden trail. My train was just after 4pm so I wanted to arrive early into town to rest and grab some lunch, so I set off early leaving camp at 7am, across the bridge from the hut and back onto the main trail.
The final 15km to the end is very easy going, fairly flat and for a lot of the trail, the summer and winter trail converged. For the first time the mosquito's were out and annoying, so I put on the head net, obviously now looking an idiot. Of course I do not have a photo of that.
For the rest of the trail the winter (ski and snowmobile) track denoted by the large red crosses were separate and about 50 yards away from the summer (hiking) trail denoted by the red spots. The river continued to wide, turning into rapids and some glorious view points.
Before I knew it I reached the end (or start) depending on how you walk it. I couldn't help feeling it was an anti climax somehow, but I had achieved another of my goals and ticket another item off the bucket list.
I got to the end about 12:30 so had plenty of time for my train at 16:50. The Abisko Tourist station is within 100 metres of the end. The Abisko village is about 2.5 km away with the main Abisko train station so I decided to grab some lunch in the hotel by the end and then walk to Abisko village and get the train from there, as if I hadn't walked enough.
I was surprised by Abisko, there really isn't a lot there, it seems just a start place for ski, walking and northern lights trips in the winter, but I had a walk round looked at what was there and then waited for the night train.
If you do this trip you have to get a first class cabin for the return journey, it is about £180, but the private bathroom with shower is worth it. I showered, emptied my pack and took some time to reflect on an truly epic adventure. I had walked the Arctic Circle section of the Kungsleden Trail in remote Northern Sweden solo with no injuries or even a single blister, quite an achievement for myself.
I will leave you with a quick summary of the travel details for how I got to the start and the end of this trip just in case you need them.
Until the next adventure ...
Flew into Stockholm Arlanda airport
Airport Lockers - Approx £5 a day depending on size
Took Arlanda Express train from Arlanda airport to Central Train station, approx £45 for an month open return.
Overnight Arctic Circle train @18:10 train from Stockholm to Gällivare, arrives 08:12 next day, first class sleeper cabin £180 each way
94 bus from Gällivare train station @08:50 to Vakkotavare, arrived 12:30, cost £34
Overnight Arctic Circle train @16:50 train number from Abisko to Stockholm, arrives 09:48 next day, first class sleeper cabin £180 each way
Used a locker in the train station to store backpack for the day to explore Stockholm, approx £5
Arlanda Express train from Central Train station to Arlanda airport
Flew out from Stockholm Arlanda airport